From Wed Jan 7 08:15:08 2004
Date: Wed, 7 Jan 2004 06:37:42 -0600 (CST)
From: Bob Corbett <>
To: Haiti mailing list <>
Subject: 17568: CBellabe: history


Contributed by the website to the Haiti List, 7 January 2004

Haitians began arriving on U.S. shores long before the widely publicized boat people crisis of the early 1980s. In fact, historians have documented a Haitian presence as early as the 1770s when a contingent of Haitian soldiers fought in the American Revolutionary War. During the same period, maroons slaves who had escaped the oppressive plantation system could be found in New York, New Orleans, and other U.S. cities. Individuals of Haitian descent who have made contributions to the United States include Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, the father of Chicago; John James Audubon, the naturalist; and Pierre Toussaint, a former slave who is under consideration by the Vatican for canonization as a saint for his humanitarian work in New York.

JEAN BAPTISTE POINTE DU SABLE (1745-1818): The Haitian Founder of Chicago

Du Sable was said to have been born a free Black in St. Marc, Saint Dominique (Haiti). He was the son of a French mariner and an African-born slave mother. His father took him to France to be educated. In the early 1770’s he made his way up the Mississippi to the Chicago area. Here he established a trading post on the North Bank of the Chicago River mouth. His business prospered and became the center of a permanent Chicago settlement. His trading post was the main supply station for White trappers, traders, les coureurs des bois and the natives. Du Sable made many trips to Canada to bring back furs and it was reported that he was very closely associated with the French in New France. It was only in 1968, that he was finally recognized as the man who founded Chicago.

The first Haitian to get his own Black Heritage Stamp

DOUGLASS, FREDERICK (1817-1895) 1889 to 1891 U.S. minister to Haiti

The most prominent African American orator, journalist, and antislavery leader of the 19th century. Douglass, an escaped slave, campaigned for the end of slavery and published three versions of his autobiography. In these works he described his experiences as a slave in the South and as a fugitive in the North. He also depicted life as a free black before the American Civil War (1861-1865) and his rise to national prominence during and after the war. In later life he continued to work for full civil rights for blacks.

Douglass held several government posts, serving as U.S. marshal for the District of Columbia (see Marshals Service) from 1877 to 1881 and as recorder of deeds for the District until 1886. He continued his active role in public service from 1889 to 1891 as U.S. minister to Haiti.

Frederic Douglas Lecture on Haiti.


About 750 Haitian freemen fought alongside colonial troops against the British in the Siege of Savannah on Oct. 9, 1779. The role of Haitian soldiers in the battle had long been ignored, North Miami Mayor Josaphat Celestin said.

Henri Christophe, a 12-year-old drummer boy who was wounded in the fight before Savannah. He later become the liberator and then king of Haiti.

More about Henry christophe, click here!


Haitian who scored a goal nearly 50 years ago that gave the United States World Cup Soccer team the famous 1950 upset of England, what is still their greatest victory ever.

On June 29, 1950, 39 minutes into what was supposed to have been England’s World Cup blowout of the United States, Gaetjens dove an estimated 12 feet (4 meters) to strike a shot from teammate Walter Bahr with his head, changing its direction enough to catch English goalkeeper Bert Williams wrong footed.

RETURNED TO HAITI IN 1954 Joe Gaetjens was not political but his family worked for Louis Dejoie, a rival to Haitian dictator Francois Papa Doc Duvalier in his 1957 run for the presidency. Gaetjens’ mother and a brother were arrested after Duvalier’s victory and most of the family fled the country.

The last time Joe Gaetjens was seen by any friend or relative was on July 8, 1964, when he was arrested at work by Duvalier’s gangster militia, the Tonton Macoute, which his family considered retaliation for their political activism he was eventually killed at Fort Dimanche.

Some did not forget Joe Gaetjens. He was honored at a New York Cosmos game in 1972 and enshrined in the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame in 1976, the same year the Organization of American States condemned Haiti’s government for his arrest.


Writer, poet, activist—A descendent of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Alexis was born on 22 April 1922, in Gona├»ves. His father was a journalist, historian and diplomat, and Alexis grew up in a family in which literary and political discussions were the norm. At the age of 18, he made what was regarded as remakable literary debut with an essay about the Haitian poet, Hamilton Garoute. He collaborated on a number of literary reviews, before founding La Ruche, a group dedicated to creating a literary and social spring in Haiti in the early 1940s.

In 1955, his novel Compere General Soleil, was published by Gallimard in Paris. This superb novel has recently been translated into English—General Sun, My Brother, and is a must-read for all those with an interest in understanding Haiti.

He followed up with Les Arbres Musiciens(1957), L’Espace d’un Cillement (1959), and Romanceros aux Etoiles (1960).

More than just a brilliant intellectual, Jacques Stephen Alexis was also an active participant in the social and political debates of his time. In 1959, he formed the People’s Consensus Party (Parti pour l’Entente Nationale-PEP), a left-oriented political party, but he was forced into exile by the Duvalier dictatorship. In August 1960, he attended a Moscow meeting of representatives of 81 communist parties from all over the world, and signed a common accord document called The Declaration of the 81 in the name of Haitian communists.

In April 1961, he returned to Haiti but soon after landing at Mole St Nicholas he was captured by Tontons Macoutes. He was taken to the town’s main square where he was tortured and then killed.


Artist—Born in New York in 1960, the son of a Haitian father and a Puerto Rican mother, Basquiat dropped out of high school and left home at the age of seventeen. Having gained some notoriety as a graffiti artist using the tag SAMO, in 1981 Basquiat’s paintings were exhibited at a show alongside artists such as Keith Haring and Andy Warhol. Overnight he became one of the most successful, controversial and glamorous artists in the world. His paintings, city dream-scapes and primal sketches, were bought by the most powerful museums and celebrity collectors including Madonna.

In 1988, at the age of 27, he died of a drugs overdose. The New York Times described him as the art world’s closest equivalent to James Dean. BBC culture critic, Tony Parsons, called him perhaps the greatest black artist of the twentieth century. A biopic, Basquiat, was released in 1996.


When I step on stage to receive a Grammy, it’s Haiti that wins, not Wyclef Jean. I always represent Haiti on the national stage.

> Wyclef Jean is an inspiration to millions of Haitians around the world.

Musician and singer—Born in 1970 in Croix-des-Bouquets, but grew up in Port-au-Prince until the age of nine when his family moved to Brooklyn, New York. Later they moved to Newark, New Jersey, where his father pastored of the Good Shepherd Church of the Nazarene. Jean formed a hip-hop trio, the Fugees, with his cousin, Pras Michel, and Lauryn Hill. The first Fugees album, Blunted on Reality, 1994, was followed by the monumentally successful, The Score, 1996, which has sold more than 15 million copies world-wide. With its blend of singing, rapping, and lush instrumentation, The Score has been widely hailed as expanding the boundaries of hip-hop. It included the global chart-topping single, a remake of Roberta Flack’s Killing Me Softly.

In 1997, he released a solo album, Wyclef Jean Presents the Carnival, containing four songs in Kreyol, and with the Fugees he returned to his homeland to play a benefit for repatriated Haitian refugees in front of 80,000 fans in Port-au-Prince. In 2000, Jean released a second solo album, The Ecleftic, Two Sides of a Book.

In late 2001, Jean was reportedly working on the production of a feature film, Passport, which is semi-autobiographical and based on his experience as an immigrant from Haiti. The film chronicles the transition and assimilation of a young Caribbean immigrant into US society.

More recently he has worked as a writer, and producer helping boost the careers of Whitney Houston and Carlos Santana, and producing CDs by Sinead O’Connor and Mary J.Blige. His latest collaboration has been with Tom Jones, the veteran Welsh singer and hip-thruster.

One of Wyclef’s greatest accomplishments is that he restored pride to thousand of young Haitian living in America. Before Wyclef, a lot of them did not claim their Haitian roots.

Which of you wlll be next for 2004?